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Why are You Attracting Narcissists?

Reviewed by Karis A. Williams, MSMHC, LPC,   December 18 , 2023

Narcissists seem to have no problem finding new fans, friends, significant others, or business partners.  Keeping them can be a challenge, but actually charming the people they relate to in the beginning is a piece of cake.   On the flip side, you meet people and appreciate being treated kindly and with respect.  But later, down the road, you realize how they treated you at the beginning is not how they are treating you now.  And you realize you have bonded with another narcissist.

So, why are you attracting narcissists?  Most people are empathetic and relate to others in generally healthy ways.  Those are the very things that narcissists look for in a person.  But not because they want to relate to you in the same way.  They specifically look for loyal, compassionate, loving people to be their narcissistic supply.  And that is why they are attracted to you.

Before we move on, let me make it clear what I mean by narcissistic supply.  Narcissists need a steady stream of praise, admiration, and attention.  They will do just about anything to be seen as the best, most authorative, smartest, or most beautiful.  And getting that recognition is their supply.

There is a lot more to this than a small paragraph can define.  So, let’s take a deeper look at why we attract narcissists and what to do about it based on my experience with narcissists and what I have learned over the years.

The Minute You Show a Narcissist You Care, They Want You

At the smallest suggestion that you could be a great source of narcissistic supply, the narcissist will have you in his sights.  It could be as simple as you picking up something he dropped as he walks past you.  Or it could be something that you have in common, such as the same hometown, a similar job choice, a vacation to the same location, or anything at all that can be tied to some experience they had.

That instantly ties you to the narcissist.  And it plants the idea in his head that you are a perfect source of supply for their insatiable needs.  But it won’t stop there.  They will continue to find things that give you common ground.  And when they find no common ground, they will continue to study you to fabricate common ground so they can continue to be their supply.

I remember talking for hours before I was married to my narcissist.  He would ask me questions, get my answer, and then give his answer that was always the same as mine.  I was amazed at how God brought someone into my life that was so perfect.  And I had no idea that he was being so much less honest than I was.  He was simply studying me so he could learn the words that would hook me.  It totally worked.  I had no idea for over 20 years that this had been his M.O. from the beginning.

Why are You Attracting narcissists?

You Have Abuse in Your Past That Makes You Unable to See Narcissistic Patterns Now

I was raised in a home with a narcissistic mother.  But I had no idea what narcissism was.  I knew things weren’t right, but usually couldn’t put my finger on all of it.  While much of the abuse could be seen, so much more of the abuse included gaslighting and other hidden forms of abuse that would be impossible for kids to figure out, or even many adults for that reason.

My sisters and I all knew things were wrong.  And we all bided our time to get out of there.  It would be many years before we realized the extent of the abuse.  We can attribute part of that to the fact that when we were growing up abuse was considered to be physical or sexual in nature.  Emotional abuse wasn’t a familiar term, let alone understood by enough people to garner the support we needed.  Plus in those days, counseling was not yet considered a mainstream treatment for mental health issues.  We were largely on our own.

In spite of the fact that we knew things weren’t right, we were not able to figure out exactly what was wrong.  And that situation totally set us up to continue in unhealthy relationships until we could figure it out.  I was married to a narcissist at the age of 21.  And I am a devout Christian who doesn’t believe in divorce because things didn’t work out the way I wanted.  It took a very long time, 35 years, to learn what the Bible DOES say about Biblical divorce and how the abused can protect themselves and find emotional health.

You Attract Narcissists Because You Have Codependency Issues

Empaths and codependents are not the same thing.  You can be a healthy empath.  but you cannot be a healthy codependent.  Empaths are extremely sympathetic and compassionate people that will help others, often at sacrifice to themselves.   But the sacrifice rarely comes at the expense of their emotional health.  Codependents are also extremely sympathetic and compassionate people that will help others, often at sacrifice to themselves.  And that is where things get very different.

Codependents will sacrifice themselves too much.  They actually lose themselves in trying to feel for and help everyone around them.  Before long, they no longer have a healthy self.  Unfortunately, codependents don’t see it that way.  They think they are helping others and often they are.  But it is at a great loss to themselves.  What they don’t realize is how much more they could help others and be there for them if they were personally more emotionally healthy.

Empaths can be codependent.  The two can absolutely dance with each other.  If this is the case for you, it is very important that you learn how to heal from codependency.  Finding a counselor who is experienced in narcissism and codependency issues could be a perfect fit for you.

The Narcissist-Codependent Dance

And now to add the narcissist/codependent elements.  Narcissists will absolutely gravitate toward codependents because they know they can get unlimited narcissistic supply and the codependent likely won’t even realize the harm being done to themselves.  This was my case for decades.  I was married to him so I thought it was my duty to pour my entire self out for him if that was what he required.  I was always super in tune with his feelings/needs/wants.  And I wanted to be the best wife I could for him.  I just didn’t realize that he was taking more than I had to give.

A narcissist and a codependent cannot be healthy together because neither one is healthy on its own.  The healing process would be nearly insurmountable.  It would be wiser to heal separately, then if they have both shown progress and healing, they can then attempt a healthy relationship.  The problem here is that narcissists rarely come to the point of wanting to heal, and they generally aren’t willing to go through the process of healing.  The codependent’s battle to health would be an uphill battle with a narcissist if the narcissist wants to heal and nearly impossible if they don’t want to heal to start with.

Dr. Rosenberg has an excellent book that directly addresses how codependents attract narcissists.  It is called The Human Magnet Syndrome: The Codependent Narcissist Trap.  It is the best book I have read yet on the specific subject of the link between narcissism and codependency.  Check it out when you can!


Going From Codependent to Empath

It is critical for an empath who is codependent to heal, whether a narcissist is involved or not.  And upon healing, the empath may very well decide that they cannot continue in relationship to a narcissist that has spent the entire relationship squeezing out narcissistic supply.

At the very least, the empath will need to set healthy boundaries going forward and be very perceptive of where the relationship is going.  The more healthy the empath becomes, the easier the right decisions will come.

You Treat Your Narcissist Extremely Well

Even the smallest favors or nice things will cause the narcissist to cling to you and desire continued favors from you.

Narcissists consider nice words and things directed at them as acceptance of everything they do or say.  This did unspeakable damage in my marriage when he would use what others said as justification for the harm done behind closed doors in our life.

The difficulty with this was when counselors and church leaders would try to speak truth into him regarding issues we were having.  Without those issues being resolved, if a church leader saw him at church, of course, they are going to make conversation and accept him as a fellow member and friend.  Unfortunately, he took that to mean that they accepted all of his life, including the unresolved abuse issues.  And then he would continue to say that he was fine and didn’t need healing in those areas, even showing anger if I dared to bring those things up.

It is a very hard thing to do to withdraw kindness because it will be destructive to the healing of a relationship.  And there are questions as to whether is is the right thing to do.  That is the prevailing problem in a relationship with a narcissist.  Do you do the kind things anyway, knowing they will be used to excuse bad behavior?  Or do you withdraw kindness when it goes against your humanity?  Unfortunately, that is generally one of the things that forces the relationship with a narcissist to end.  But it doesn’t ever cause a narcissist to improve new relationships going forward.

You Attract Narcissists Because You Care

The scenario generally starts the same.  You meet someone.  They are very nice to you and you seem to have a lot of great things in common.  Just like all of your other friends and family, you show them you care right away because that is the person you are.

The narcissist knows how to be charming.  And he knows how to learn what makes you tick very quickly.  And just like that, you are instantly a source of narcissistic supply.  Nobody who meets and relates to a narcissist on any level will be able to avoid that from the start.

You will need to understand what is happening quickly and then adjust to set the correct boundaries for your own safety.  It is critical to do this before you get deeply into a relationship.  And the best part of this:  you will find that if you do not succumb to the narcissist’s flattery and love bombing he will likely lose interest quickly and move on to someone who will give him an easier source of narcissistic supply.

Narcissists Will be Attracted to you if They Pick up on Low Self-Esteem

Narcissists latch onto low self esteem nearly instantly.  I honestly don’t know how they see it so well when they are so emotionally unhealthy already.  But they realize that someone who has low self esteem generally won’t do the things they need to to keep themselves healthy.  And that makes you an easy target.

The truth is, with self esteem issues, any relationship is difficult.  It is wise to talk to someone who understands the issues and especially even a counselor.

One of the problems of having low self esteem is that the attention and flatter of a narcissist can go unrecognized.  If you know you have self esteem issues, talk to friends who know you.  Have them meet your potential relationships.  They will see what you can’t.  In the long run, you will be glad you did it.

Why are you attracting narcissists?

You Attract Narcissists if you React Well to the Way They Treat you in the Beginning

Attracting a narcissist is as simple as reacting well and with grace when you first meet.  Any positive experience is a chance for the narcissist to gain a new supply.  And they will say and do what they need to so they can align with your preferences.

From the minute they meet you, if they feel good about the meeting, they will immediately start getting to know what makes you tick.  While you perceive that as sincerity and him getting to know you, he is more like dracula checking out your neck.

It is really unfortunate that you responding in the right way causes them to treat you in the wrong way.  But if you are socially aware from the beginning, it is a huge red flag that you will be able to see and adjust accordingly.  And getting to the other side of that experience will make you an even stronger, healtheir person.

You Attract Narcissists if You are Successful at What You Do

Narcissists have a need to appear successful.  So when they can attach themselves to other successful people, it automatically makes them look successful.  So the natural progression is that you will attract narcissists if you are a successful person.

This doesn’t necessarily mean successful just in the job/money feel.  It can be successful in sports, cultural events, ministry, literally anything.  I think the reasoning behind this is that people tend to be successful not just in one or two things, but in most of what they do.  Once a narcissist sees success in you, he will put you on that pedestal of perfection, expecting you to be perfectly successful in everything you do.  And as long as you perform well, you will be fine.

But the minute you fall off that pedestal of perfection, you will no longer be the target for his supply.  You will now be the target of his anger and disappointment.  You let him down and now you will pay for “taking away his supply.”

This one is honestly hard to see for what it is early in the relationship.  It is hard to tell the difference between flattery and admiration in a new partner.  Time will just need to play it out.

You Attract Narcissists if you Tend to put Others Above Yourself

You will automatically attract narcissists if you are a natrually giving person.  If you tend to put yourself above others, you will be a target of every narcissist you run across.  At the risk of being overly repetitive, the reason for this is because they will latch onto anyone who is a giving and kind person.  They can go for years taking what you have to give, knowing that you aren’t keeping track of what you are getting back in return.

This is okay if you are aware of what is going on and choose what you want to give based on that knowledge.  It only becomes unhealthy when you put yourself above others in such a way that you are hurting yourself.  You have to keep yourself healthy in order to be healthy for others.  And sometimes, it is absolutely healthy to put others ahead of yourself.  Just be aware of what you are doing!

What Can You do About Attracting Narcissists to Yourself

Everybody attracts narcissists from time to time.  They are everywhere, some higher on the spectrum of narcissism than others.  But how you handle them will determine whether they can come alongside you and ruin your life.  Let’s take a look at what you can do when you attract narcissists to you to assure that you preserve your emotional health.  There are some warning signs to look out for.  Here are a few.

  1. Asking a lot of personal questions early on.
  2. Treating other people unkindly when around you (servers, cashiers, etc.).
  3. Wanting to move things along quicker than they should be.
  4. Not really listening to you.
  5. Talking about themselves the whole time with very little focus on you.
  6. Not using emotional or feeling words.
  7. Not having friends or family around.
  8. Repeating what you say are your likes and preferences as their own.
  9. Not being forthcoming with their own thoughts and preferences.
  10. Displaying a sense of entitlement.

There are more signs than these, but these are the most likely ones the narcissist will display early in a relationship.

The most important way to make sure you don’t attract narcissists to you is to be emotionally healthy.  But know that narcissists can pop up anywhere.  They can be in your family, neighborhood, work, church, literally anywhere.  So be healthy and head it off before they have their thumb over you!

If you liked this article, I think you will also love the following articles:

How to Help a Narcissist Heal

Why Narcissists Love Going to Church

Does a Narcissist Know They are a Narcissist?

How Religious Narcissists Think?

Can a Narcissist be a Good Person?

Narcissistic Behavior:  What to Look Out For

Praying for Your Narcissistic Husband

Are Spiritual Narcissists Overt or Covert?

How to Navigate Religious Narcissistic Parents

What Happens to the Soul of a Narcissist?

How to Heal From a Spiritual Narcissist

Can You Maintain a Relationship With a Spiritual Narcissist?

Can Narcissists Have a Spiritual Awakening?

How Will God Judge a Narcissist?

When the Church Says to Move Back in With Your Narcissist

What Can We Say to a Friend Who’s Divorcing

23 Reasons Why Narcissists are Drawn to the Church

When the Church Doesn’t Recognize Narcissistic Abuse

Will the Church Support Divorcing a Narcissist?

What Does the Bible Say About Narcissism?

Can a Spiritual Narcissist Heal?

Can a Narcissist Be a Christian?

What is Spiritual Narcissism?

What Does the Spiritual Narcissist Do When You Try to Leave?  

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

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